Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Trio of Seats

The importance of being Ernest created by artist Trevor Skempton is the theme of today's bench in the books about town.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Have a Chat with Hugh

Have you ever wondered if only statues talked; I wonder what they would say.

Well guess what, some of them can talk!  Really!  Hugh Myddelton will tell you he thinks he looks great in this outfit, Italian chic of the day.  He'll also chat about his interesting and varied career path leading to him being appointed Royal jeweller to the King.

Not only do statues in London chat with you but so do many in Manchester.   (see which ones here) Go on go and have a chat.  

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Future Back Then

Today you can take a seat on George Orwell's 1984 bench as interpreted by artist Thomas Dowdeswell.  Look for this book about town on the Bloomsbury Trail near the university.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Imagine the Scary Scene

A serial killer follows a woman through a dark underpass and into a secluded apartment.  That was a scene in the movie Peeping Tom (1960).   The nail biting scene was shot in this alleyway, Newman Pass in Soho.  

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Ted finds a new man ...

The next big thing to happen in burgers is .. the bagel bun. Yes you heard it here, although it has nothing to do with today’s musings at all. It was a rainy Sunday in the middle of summer, as can be the way of London. When I say rain I should say torrential almost tropical storm like downpours, which is not the way of London rain at all .. normally. So what better to do in these conditions than to have a little lunch and "while away" a few hours in a nice little tavern, warm and dry.

I have wanted to go to the Newman Street Tavern for a “while” now, and finally, with the Doll in tow last weekend we finally made it. It takes its name from the street it’s in but I think it’s also fitting given the history of Newman as a name. It was originally a pre-medieval nickname for somebody new to a particular place, and has a range of spellings, depending on where in Europe you were at the time. Surnames became necessary in many European countries and the UK in the 12th century when governments introduced personal taxation. Yep … that far back!

Opening in late 2012, situated on the edge of the dining riches of Goodge and Charlotte street in Fitzrovia, it provides chef Peter Weldon with a wonderful opportunity to bring to his experience to bear in showcasing the best of seasonal and wild produce from around the UK.

The Doll and I shared some rock oysters from Colchester to start with a glass of champagne. The wine list is full of little gems sourced from independent and smaller producers, many available in various sized servings, all at pretty good prices.

Next came cured wild trout, a cucumber and fennel salad, with a honey dressing. Roasted pork with roast potatoes is hard to go past and so I didn’t and my taste buds were handsomely rewarded for my choice. The Doll went for breaded kid (no one we knew), girolles from Scotland with a warm pea and broad bean salad, and pronounced it good. While we were deciding on whether to have desert or not one of the tropical downpours occurred, with raindrops the size of side plates .. so that made the decision easy. 

We left replete and happy when the sun decided to shine again. I’ll be back on a rainy winters day.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Congestion on the Water

Even the waterways are busy in London this summer with narrow boats moored up to three abreast in some parts of the canal.  

Friday, 15 August 2014

Sheltering from the Rain

Sheltering in a doorway waiting for the rain to stop.  We've had a few sudden thunderstorms recently.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Lions at the Tower

Regarded as symbols of power, lions were common place at the Tower of London during the middle ages.  Along with monkeys, bears and elephants wild animals were treated as creatures of curiosity for entertainment.  You might have even seen a bear or a lion fishing on the banks of the Thames.

Fortunately this century you will only find sculpture replicas.  This art installation of lions basking in the grounds of the Tower was created by sculpture Kendra Haste in 2011.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

On The Edge

Out on the edge, the outskirts of London, the last pages in the A-Z.  Another image from the project I am partaking in.  Life and views are very different out here.  

Monday, 11 August 2014

Washing Line Posts

Art for your washing line in the 1920's.  Thanks to Father Basil Jellicoe the courtyards and gardens of the housing estates in Somerstown during this period were adorned with pieces of art.  He felt strongly that even the poor were entitled to quality houses and that art should be available to all.

Sculpter Gilbert Hayes was commissioned to create these ceramic finials that sat on the top of washing line posts.  Most were destroyed during the second world war.

St Pancras and Humanist Housing is now undertaking a major program to create and install replicas.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Smile for the camera Ted ....

Neal's Yard Dairy
It was the most polysyllabic and microbe enriched tasting I have been to in a very long time. Neal’s Yard Dairy started way back in 1979 and today is the UK’s top retailer of artisanal, mostly British and Irish, cheeses. I went off to try out one of their cheese tastings, upstairs at the dairy in Borough Market. The erudite Francis Percival of fine wine and food magazine editing was our host and tutor.

There were eight cheeses matched with five wines. The cheeses were chosen as they were representative of cheeses at their best in summer. It was, not unexpectedly, dominated by goats and sheep’s milk cheeses, with the odd notable cow’s milk exception (Kirkham’s Lancashire, worthy of singling out, anytime, anywhere really).  We tried fresh goats cheeses with champagne and a German Riesling, stronger cheeses with an amazing Manzanilla sherry, and a Rose and a sparkling Moscato with the rather robust and gutsy washed rind cheeses at the end.

Francis really engaged us by telling us about the cheese makers. It seemed to me that the cheeses all had one thing in common – they were representative of the personalities, passion, and idiosyncrasies of their very much human makers. Luckily they all seemed like very nice people!!

Cheese has been around for centuries. One of the earliest and most consistently recorded English cheeses is Wensleydale, appearing regularly in texts from the 1600s. All cheese needs a setting agent like rennet to transform from plain old milk. Francis told us (and being an ancient historian of course we believed him) that one year, for whatever reason, they couldn't get the usual rennet needed to make the Wensleydale cheese, so they used the local black snails, as they had they right enzymes to make the milk set …

... anybody else feel a bit shell shocked ....

Saturday, 9 August 2014

All is Revealed

A large structure covered in white curtains what could it be?  On my way back past Kings Cross Station a couple of hours later, all was revealed: A giant Henry Moore sculpture.

The three meter high sculpture, inspired by a pebble (no really Moore obviously lives in giant land) is on long term loan.  I wonder what inspiration this will give the students at St Martins school of art just up the road.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Green River

Everything is green in London right now - even this little stream in Regents Park.  It's "naturally" green as result of the lovely warm weather promoting weed growth apparently.  If you look closely there's a coot on its nest admiring its new "lawn".

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Gruffalo Bench

Gruffalo, witches, and dragons, lots of characters for you to find in this bench.  Another bench from  the books about town series  scattered around London this summer.